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My $200-$300 Full Sized Can Shootout - Q701, HD598, K550

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I wanted to share some quick impressions on my search for a new full sized headphone.  Practicality and portability are important to me.  I travel often and they need to be durable and able to be powered off of a portable amp and the occasional laptop/iphone/sansa.  I am in NYC this week for work and decided to buy several contenders to see which one best matched my preferences.  


I used to use Denon D2000s.  Loved them across all genres, but traveling with them tended to break the attachment of the driver to the band.  After two warranty replacements I sold them.  I use Shure 315 IEMs for workouts/airplanes and enjoy their signature.  My temporary full size headphone has been the Superlux HD681.  I use the full size headphones at home and in hotels for music and movies.  The Superlux is a fantastic performer for the money, but I was missing the quality of the Denon.


The contenders:


AKG Q701 - I know this is a very different signature than the Denon, but I was always curious about the K701.

AKG K550 - I only became familiar with these this week and read most of the threads here.  

Sennheiser HD 598   - I had some 598s way back in the day before owning some Koss ESP 950s.  Haven't been exposed to the Senn sound for some time.  


I wanted to keep the budget under $300.


System:  Macbook Air - FLAC - USB - FIIO E17


Musical Preferences - Folk Rock, Jazz, Classical, Modern Rock, Live Concert Recordings. 



  • Q701 - loved the feel of the headphone.  Super comfortable.  Nice build quality.  Initial good impressions, but I kept turning the volume down with songs with higher frequency content.  I was missing the body of the Denons on tunes with good bass lines. As much as I wanted to like them they just didn't engage me.  Most likely under amped by the E17, but unwilling to invest more in a higher powered amp.  I actually found the Superlux more engaging after trimming the high frequencies a bit.  
  • Senn 598 - Looked like a grandma's Lincoln Town Car with the beige and fake wood.  Warm, dynamic, but lacking enough detail  for my taste.  I didn't listen long.  My initial impression was pretty strong.  
  • K550 - First, the build is fantastic.  Metal>Plastic.  The folding cups is a killer feature for me.  I can fit them in my small travel bag with the Macbook Air and have great sound in a small package.  Sound - more body, enough detail.  Dynamics that sound like music.  Obviously less flat and reference than the 701s, but I enjoyed the tunes I was listening to across genres.  Also, they don't need the E17 to sound decent.  Respectable results from portable sources and straight out of the mac.  Ears get a bit hot from the sealed pleather cups.  


I think the K550 is my headphone for practical and sound quality reasons.  

Edited by orbilius - 9/11/12 at 4:46pm
post #2 of 5

K701? i thought you had the "Q" version. (from what i know there's a slight difference between them?)


But thanks for the quick comparison, i fell in love with my K550 from the first day. They are great for classical and orchestras. 

Edited by fabio-fi - 9/11/12 at 4:48pm
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  Edited to reflect Q701...

post #4 of 5



On your quest, if you choose to continue, here's some suggestions to also attempt to try (maybe buy from places that allow returns):


Brainwavz HM5 (Fischer Audio FA003)

Fischer Audio FA-002

AudioTechnica A900X

Ultrasone PRO 750
Ultrasone HFI 2400

Shure SRH840

Beyer DT770

Beyer DT880

Hifiman HE-300 revision 2

Fostex T50RP (modded; Mad Dogs or Paradox)


My portable of choice is a premium Beyer DT770, with black velour pads, and aftermarket re-cabled to have a detachable locking cable that is 4 feet long and sleeved, terminating to 3.5mm with an extension of the same cabling for home use. Tank like. Big. Comfortable. Great sound.


Very best,

post #5 of 5

Yes it would be nice to have some ultrasones compared against others. Nice job. smile.gif

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